The Wells, Somerset postmark meant the sturdy package could only have come from one man: Britain's most legendary living showman, Gerry Cottle. And what a treat it was to open the jiffy bag and pull out A World of Circus - A Pictorial History of Gerry Cottle's Circus by ace photographer Andrew Payne.
This is Volume 2 and takes us from 1991 to 2015. The A4-size hardback is stuffed with glorious colour photographs from in the ring, to backstage, the transport and shots of the big top being built up and pulled down; plus hundreds of fabulous circus posters.
It's a book every circus fan will enjoy, although the Cottle story is far from over.
Slipped into the cover of my copy was a photocopied list of dates for Gerry's latest venture, Gerry Cottle's Electric Circus, which begins its 2016 tour on Southsea Common, July 2.
For more on Gerry Cottle, click here.
2016 is the 70th anniversary of Smart's first circus, and this is another A4 hardback, beautifully printed and positively overflowing with amazing circus art that traces Smart's history through the years.
UPDATE September 2016: Just heard that The Posters of Billy Smart's Circus is SOLD OUT - although a reprint is scheduled for 2018, to mark the 250th anniversary of Philip Astley's first circus. In the meantime, Steven B Richley's next book, Sir Robert Fossetts Circus - The Definitive Visual History, will be out in November. More details here.
|Gerry Cottle, left, with Circus Mania|
author Douglas McPherson
as pictured in The Stage.